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In Your Eyes

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     The smell of coffee and the sound of old folk music filled the aged motorhome. The Kansas sun burned the eyes of the still-tired woman in the passenger seat, whilst the woman driving almost seemed to revel in it. With another sip of the black coffee, she let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.

     Peace took over her as she drove, and happiness filled in the blanks when she took occasionally looks over to the beauty in the passenger seat. 

     During one of the peeks over, the passenger catches her eyes, and flashes an innocent smile.

     The driver giggles at the sight. The girl is absolutely adorable, her eyes are still half shut while she smiles, and it almost seems like it’s taking an unreasonable amount of effort to bring her face to complete the gesture.

     "Whhhaaaatttt?" The passenger dragged out the word, grogginess in every sound.

     "Oh nothing," The driver says, eyes on the road with an ever present smile stamped onto her face.

     "Ammmbbeeerrr," The passenger continues to and try and push, getting exactly the opposite reaction that she desired out of Amber.

     "Oh you're just cute when you're still sleepy. Can I not appreciate my cute girlfriend, Marina?" She shoots Marina a playful yet almost sultry gaze.

     Another weak groggy smile comes from Marina.

     Marina takes a moment to try and come up with some witty retort, or some way to tease her girlfriend, but immediately the thought trails off and her train of thought is derailed by her exhaustion.

     Before Amber can beat her to the teasing, a loud click emanates from the tape player.

     The sound catches Amber off guard at first, she hadn’t even realized how much time had passed. She reaches beside for the bin of tapes, but before she starts to search for one, she glances over to Marina, who just let out a long yawn, and begins to ask, “You want to pick the next one?”

     Marina reaches over and takes the bin, “Sure,” and sets it on her lap, before she starts digging through the tapes. 

     It takes her a moment to find something that really catches her eye, and when she finally finds a tape, instead of the usual quick motion to play it, she tilts her head, and hands it over to Amber, “What’s this one? I don’t think I’ve seen it before,” Marina’s voice is equal parts inquisitive and flabbergasted. 

     After the first road trip they took, Marina had understandably thought she had heard each and every one of Amber’s tapes, but she knew for a fact that she had never seen or heard this one.

     Amber takes it with her free hand, and inspects it before her eyes widen in complete surprise. 

     ”No shit…” She whispers to herself.

     The tape looks like the rest, save for the white label. Most of the tapes simply described the genre, or perhaps if it was only one band, it would list the band, but this one was labeled with a name. 

     The label read, “Debra,” and to the right of the name, was a poorly drawn heart. Amber knew the handwriting in an instant.

     It was the handwriting of her grandfather.

     ”Amber?” Marina tilts her head to the side.

     Amber chuckles a little bit, her heart stinging a little bit as she realizes what she was holding. 

     ”S-sorry… Gramps made this for my grandma. I almost forgot I still had it,” Amber begins to explain.

     ”Ooh, I’ve never heard about your grandma. What was she like?” Marina smiles to Amber, her usual chipper curiosity only being faltered by her girlfriend’s response.

     ”I… don’t know. I never met her. This was really the closest I ever got to meeting her… Even though I didn’t hear this tape too often. Gramps never really liked to play it around me. I saw him listening to it a few times; whenever he listened to it, he would just sit there and smile. He might shed a few tears here and there, but, somehow the memory of Grandma only made him happy, even if it was bittersweet.”

     ”Aww… That’s so sweet,” Marina puts her hands to heart as her voice sing-songs the words.

     Amber smiles to herself, “Yeah… Sappy old man,” she chuckles through those words, before continuing, “He always told me that Grandma was kindest, sweetest woman in the world. Whenever he did play the tape with me, I never really got to hear the music as much as I got to hear him talk about her… He loved her a lot. I look back on it now and I’m shocked he could talk about her like that without breaking down. I didn’t mind, he was calm when he talked about her, which was a nice change of pace,” she laughs to herself as she finishes.

     Amber holds the tape close to her, and silence takes over for a moment.

     It wasn’t the type of silence to make Marina or Amber uncomfortable, In the past two months since the Music Festival, Amber rarely felt about her grandfather, instead, she took a more nostalgic, and melancholic approach to the thoughts. She cherished the memories, and tried to think as happily as she possibly could given the thoughts.

     ”Amber?” Marina breaks Amber’s thoughts with a voice like silk.

     Amber shakes herself back into reality, “Yeah, Mare?”

     ”Do you… Do you think we could listen to it? Don’t mean to kill the sentimental moment, but you’ve got me too curious.”

     Amber smiles with a small and short laugh, “Of course.”

     With that, Amber slid the tape into the deck, and pressed play.

     She vaguely remembered the first song, a slower folkish song by some, Peter-something. She could barely remember the name, only pulling the first name of the singer from her memory. The name of the song stuck out to her though, it was a song titled, “In Your Eyes.”

     She couldn’t remember having any strong feelings about the song one way or another. When she heard it when she was younger, she always enjoyed the melody but the lyrics never really meant anything to her. Just a sweet song about a guy being in love. To her, that’s all it ever really was. The eyes are the gateway to the soul, so it all made at least some sense to her.

     She expected a similar response when the song started, but when the first chords of the guitar played, she felt her heart strings being pulled. It wasn’t until the first lyrics began playing that she remembered just how much this song meant to Gramps…

Love, I get so lost sometimes

     When she hears those words, something in her mind changes. She expected to have memories of her late grandfather, at least memories of him speaking of her long lost wife.

Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart

     It doesn’t take her any time to realize who and what she’s thinking about.

When I want to run away, I drive off in my car 

     Those words sting her a little too much. As her thoughts begin racing, she suddenly finds herself back before Marina joined her in the motorhome. Before just a simple but important trip to California turns into a treasure hunt. Before a desire to be alone turns into a wish to never leave the girl at her side ever again.

But whichever way I go, I come back to the place you are

     As the line ends, Amber can tell that Marina is smiling shyly to her. She can feel its presence, and as she feels that presence, something happens to the thoughts of sadness, and loneliness.

     Suddenly, they’re replaced with thoughts of happiness, thoughts of finally being content.

     Thoughts of love.

And all my instincts, they return; And the grand façade, so soon will burn

     Amber begins to remember why her grandfather loved the song so much, and she’s beginning to think it’s a touch contagious. A soft smile begins to creep up on her.

Without a noise, without my pride; I reach out from the inside

     Part of her wants to sing along, but the words escape her, and it almost feels as if she’s never heard the song before.

In your eyes, the light, the heat

     As the chorus flows in, Amber’s heart flutters, and her thoughts begin to cement to one subject. 

In your eyes, I am complete; In your eyes, I see the doorway; In your eyes, To a thousand churches; In your eyes, The resolution; In your eyes, Of all my fruitless searches

     As a trace tear starts to well up in her eye, she feels the subject of those thoughts reach out and take her hand. She hadn’t even realized how limp her right hand was, but once she felt the loving and steady grip of Marina’s hand, she returns the gesture, and smiles to Marina.

In your eyes, Oh, I see the light and the heat; In your eyes, the light, the heat;

Oh, I want to be that complete; I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes

     Once the chorus comes to a close, Amber sneaks a gaze over to Marina, who’s staring back at her, not caring how she looks. Kindness and love fill Marina’s eyes; and Amber can already feel herself getting lost in them. 

Love, I don't like to see so much pain

     Unfortunately for both of them, as the second verse began, the road called for Amber’s attention. 

So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away

     The previous two lines hit Amber at once, as the bitter memories of them screaming and hurting each other play back in her head.

I get so tired of working so hard for our survival

     The words begin to pull her back partially to her grandfather, as well as her previous actions toward Marina, specifically the ones she most regretted.

I look to my time with you to keep me awake and alive

     However, as the next words come through, she’s reminded of something else. Her heart warms, as she gazes over to the woman sitting beside her. Her smile grows, and part of her feels like she could cry from happiness alone.

And all my instincts, they return; And the grand façade, so soon will burn

     As the words repeat, her previous feelings about the lyrics are only amplified.

Without a noise, without my pride; I reach out from the inside

     Marina began humming along, surprising in tune with the music, and Amber can only smile at that. 

     As the chorus repeats itself, both of their hands tighten around the other’s.

     Suddenly, Amber understands everything. Her grandfather’s love for the song, and the new meaning it has for her. She understands every word, every feeling the song makes her feel.

     Once the song begins to calm after the chorus her ears perk up at words she forgot were even in the song.

Accepting all I've done and said

     Amber half expects the words to bring a touch of pain back to her heart, but before they can she realizes that there is no point in that. She’s been forgiven; and all she’s done and said, is not all bad.

I want to stand and stare again

     At those words, her attention turns to Marina again, who seems like she hasn’t moved an inch.

Until there is nothing left, and; Oh, it remains there, in your eyes

     Marina’s eyes had turned to an ocean, and Amber didn’t mind being lost at sea.

Whatever comes and goes; I will hear your silent cries

     Marina’s eyes flutter, and if it were possible for her eyes to speak anymore happiness, they would.

I will touch this tender wall; Until I know I'm home again

     As the song grows to a close, Amber can only find herself wants to do one thing.


     ”Yes, Amber?”

     ”I love you.”